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Press Release

Three sentenced in deadly home robbery

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

McALLEN, Texas - Three South Texas men have been sentenced following their conviction for a home invasion that led to the death of a homeowner, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Juan Antonio Moreno, 41, and Jesse Joe Mata, 32, both of Donna; and Alberto Vela, 43, Mercedes, pleaded guilty Aug. 4, 2012, to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.

U.S. District Chief Judge Randy Crane has now ordered Moreno to serve a 115-month-term of imprisonment for the drug charge in addition to another 120 months for the firearms offense which must be served consecutively for a total 235-month federal prison sentence. Mata received a total of 212 months, while Vela was ordered to serve 12 years. His prison sentence will be immediately followed by three years of supervised release while the other two serve four years.

“For most of us, our homes are our sanctuaries,” said Hamdani. “We could never imagine, not for one moment, armed gang members breaking down doors and shooting us to death in such a sacred place. This case illustrates how the dirty, greedy and violent business of drug trafficking takes no prisoners and has no redeeming value. Our office will not rest until we can put drug traffickers out of business and eradicate this type of violence from our communities.”

“Our citizens deserve to feel safe in their homes, and the violent acts committed by the defendants in this case deprive everyone in the community of that right,” said Special Agent in Charge Aaron Tapp of the FBI's San Antonio Field Office. “We would like to thank our partners with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC), McAllen Police Department (MPD), Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) for their collective efforts to ensure every person has the opportunity to live and work in a safe community.”

Moreno had contacted members of the Tri-City Bombers, a violent criminal enterprise, to assist him and the others a home invasion to steal marijuana he believed was stored in the home.

On April 12, 2012, Moreno, Mata, Vela and others broke into the Edinburg residence. The homeowner was present and confronted them with a firearm. A struggle ensued and the homeowner was shot and killed. Vela was also shot.

FBI led the OCDETF investigation with the assistance of TABC, MPD and Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office.

OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found on the Department of Justice’s OCDETF webpage.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anibal J. Alaniz and Casey N. MacDonald prosecuted the case.

Updated March 27, 2024

Violent Crime